Opening and Closing A Vacation Home

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Golf carts on public sidewalks? Not yet – News –

Golf carts on public sidewalks? Not yet – News –

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A History worth telling: Richard Sparks Haley wants to preserve his family lore

By JAMES A. JONES JR. – Buzz up!

MANATEE — Richard Sparks Haley is 70, looks 50, and would appear to have DNA loaded with longevity.

His mother, Mary Louise Haley, is 95, and until recently was a regular tennis player.

But Haley, a local rancher and builder, knows that he won’t live forever and is anxious to preserve the photographs and documents that record his family’s history in Manatee County.

JAMES A. JONES JR./ Richard Sparks Haley with a stair rail at his home made from a floor joist of an early school in Palmetto that was razed. Buy it: Order this photo now
Buy it: Order this photo now
Buy it: Order this photo now
Buy it: Order this photo now
Buy it: Order this photo now
Buy it: Order this photo now

Haley traces his family tree back to Samuel Sparks Lamb, founder of Palmetto; and John Jasper Haley, who fought for the Confederacy at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg. Wilderness, and Second Cold Harbor.

Haley’s relations also include the Fullers and the Reasoners, names prominent in Manatee County history. The Fullers as entrepreneurs and developers and the Reasoners as pioneer nursery operators.

Haley has a thick computer printout that traces his family roots back to 1690 Scotland.

There are boxes and boxes of material, but many of the photos are a century old and showing it, turning yellow, the images fading.

In 1989, Haley found a receptive ear at the Florida State Archives, a staff member who seemed interested in cataloguing and preserving some of what he had. But she died of a heart attack, and another champion failed to come forward to take on the project.

More recently, he has been working with the Carnegie Library in Palmetto on how to archive some of his documents and photos.

Carnegie’s Lynn Pope, whose husband is related to Haley, said the repository of Palmetto history can supply archival boxes and labels, but admits that it is a daunting task, and resources are limited.

“Some of it is on his father’s side, some of it is on his mother’s side,” she said of Haley’s complex family history.

Another possibility that Haley has yet to explore is the Manatee County Public Library Historic Photograph Collection, which includes images from the late 19th Century through the early 1980s.

The digital collection, made possible by funding of the Library Foundation Inc., includes more than 20,000 images.

John Van Berkel, library services manager, said the library is putting all of its historic images on the web through a contract with the University of South Florida.

The web represents a new way of preservation, leapfrogging the old system — microfilm — in ease of use and accessibility to many more users.

The digital photo collection, in addition to “depicting schools, churches, hospitals and means of transportation, feature many prominent local families and their important role in building and documenting Manatee County,” according to the USF Library website.

Haley’s interest in history — his family’s and the community’s — came early.

Raised in Palmetto, he was born at Bradenton General Hospital in 1940 and graduated from Manatee High School in 1958.

“I was exploring Gamble Mansion before it was a state park. It was abandoned and all the windows were knocked out,” he said.

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Palmetto girls’ fight sparks debate

Palmetto girls’ fight sparks debate
By BETH BURGER and PARADISE AFSHAR – Herald Staff Writers Buzz up!

PALMETTO — The YouTube videos of two 16-year-old girls fist-fighting and a mother cheering on her daughter have catapulted the incident into an international news story and sparked an intense community discussion:

How could a mother bring her child to a fight and then cheer her on?

How could nearly 100 other teens just watch, cheer and shoot video without any of them stepping in to break it up?

A video of Friday’s fight in Palmetto was on YouTube until it was taken down at around 6 p.m. Wednesday. CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS

VIN MANNIX column | Teenage girls’ fight videos sad spectacle Palmetto student fight goes global Mom jailed after Palmetto High student fight What does it all say about our society in the Internet age?

“It’s heartbreaking to think that an adult would allow her daughter to hurt another child. You’re supposed to be a role model,” said Manatee resident Karen Long, 45, who has three children between the ages of 14 and 25. “What are you teaching your child about proper behavior? Someone needs to pray for her and that child. It’s sad.”

The fight broke out Sept. 17 on a vacant field outside Palmetto, lasting about five minutes. Dozens of teens watched and yelled in excitement — many recording the action on their cellphone cameras — as the two battled over an ex-boyfriend, according to authorities.

The tapes were splashed on YouTube, leading to 39-year-old April Newcomb’s arrest on a child abuse charge.

“The actions of a high school student getting into a fight is not necessarily news. That’s been happening for years,” said Newcomb’s defense attorney, Kevin Hayslett, of Clearwater.

“Part of the snowball effect of this story is that it was beamed around the world within 24 hours,” he said. “Had it not been for the power of the Internet, this would have been a fight the kids talked about at school, but would not have had any lasting consequence for the participants or spectators.”

The media frenzy

Since the Bradenton Herald broke the story of Newcomb’s arrest Wednesday on, media outlets around the world picked up the story and ran the video.

National television shows, including “Inside Edition” and “Prime News” on the Headline News channel, played video footage from the fight. Several news websites posted the story, including one in India,,

At least two videos of the fight have since been removed on YouTube.

In contrast, just four days after the Palmetto fight, there was another fight in Manatee involving parents and children.

A 14-year-old girl and her 37-year-old mother were hospitalized after being struck with a pipe by another mother, officials say.

But there was apparently no video footage of that fight, and media coverage was minimal.

“Video definitely draws interest,” said Kelly McBride, a Poynter Institute senior faculty member in St. Petersburg who specializes in media ethics. “That’s not a question anymore. People like to look at dramatic video. … Even if the media hadn’t jumped on the story — the video still would have gone viral.”

Josh Stapleton-Jones, 16, a junior at Palmetto High, said teens who post videos hope they will garner attention.

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